A Total Solar Eclipse Is Coming – What Will We See in Philly? | Philly Views
August 10, 2017

A Total Solar Eclipse Is Coming – What Will We See in Philly?

Written by Kiley Price

On August 21, a total solar eclipse will be visible from the continental US, an event that has not occurred since 1979.

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, covering the sun completely and producing a shadow of darkness.

With such an uncommon occurrence approaching, people all over the country are extremely excited and gearing up to travel to the states that are best for viewing.

The path of total coverage of the sun only passes through a couple states in the US, an area that encompasses about 12 million people. Approximately 25 million people are within a day drive. NASA projects this to be one of the worst traffic days in national history.


Why is this such a big deal?

The most important thing you need to know about this solar eclipse is that it is really rare and really weird.

The sun is about 400 times as big as the moon, so you might be wondering how such a little moon could cover the entire sun for any amount of time.

Coincidentally, the sun happens to be about 400 times farther away from the earth than the moon and this distance makes it seem as if they are the same size.

Because of this lovely anomaly, people from the US have a chance to see the moon block out the sun and turn day into night but only in about 14 states, not including Pennsylvania. Philly will not entirely be missing out, however.

What will we see in Philly?

If you don’t want to drive 10 hours to Charleston, South Carolina to see a 2 minute event, Philly is still a cool spot to watch the celestial phenomenon. A total eclipse of the sun will not happen at any point in the city, however the maximum coverage of the sun will reach about 80 percent at 2:44 pm on August 21. You can expect to see the sky dim a bit as if covered by a cloud, rather than a total blackout. 

Astronomy-lovers have planned several events scattered throughout Philly to view the eclipse.

The biggest event will be held at the Franklin Institute starting at noon on August 21. Staff will be on hand at the Fels Planetarium to explain how this incredible lunar event occurs, help with safe viewing, and provide a spot to watch the sun disappear (a little). The Chief Astronomer of the Franklin Institute, Derrick Pitts, will be in Missouri to study the event, but he will still be doing a live-stream from his location.

Other places hosting events include the Wagner Institute of Science, and three branches of the Free Library, Charles Santore Library, Wadsworth Library, and Wynnfield Library.

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If you don’t feel like going to an event catered specifically to the eclipse, other good spots to watch include your front porch, parks, or a rooftop bar to booze while you watch. To find the perfect time to watch, just type your zip-code here.

The One Liberty Observation Deck will also be offering a view of the sky from 57 stories up, with a free upgrade to a Sun & Stars ticket on Sunday August 20 and Monday August 21 along with free solar eclipse glasses.

Stay safe, friends.

If you have ever been dared to look directly at the sun before, you know firsthand that it hurts. A total solar eclipse is the only way to look at the sun without special protection.

However if there is any chance of your viewing area showing part of the sun, it can cause permanent damage or blindness to your eyes. No need to panic, though, because scientists have invented several ways to allow you to watch the eclipse safely.

One way to stay safe is by wearing a pair of these super trendy and totally fashionable solar glasses.


The Franklin Institute and Wagner will have these glasses at their events, but you can also order a pair of your own here.

Warby Parker is also giving away from solar eclipse glasses throughout the month of August.

Another option for safe viewing is to make your own pinhole camera by following these steps created by the experts at the Franklin Institute.

If you are bitter about the Total Solar Eclipse ignoring Philadelphia and plan on boycotting the entire event, I have big news for you. In a short 62 years, another total solar eclipse will pass directly through Philadelphia.

If you are as excited about the eclipse as the rest of the country and don’t feel like waiting over half a century, Philly has plenty of ways to watch the Solar Eclipse and enjoy the peculiarity that is space.

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